Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 19:21 pm (KSA) 16:21 pm (GMT)

Bahrain prisoners on hunger strike: rights group

Detainees say they are denied basic necessities (File)
Detainees say they are denied basic necessities (File)

A Bahrain human rights group has urged authorities to look into reports of a hunger strike at Adliya prison facility to protest against alleged mistreatment of prisoners, according to press reports.

Family members said authorities had imposed collective punishment on detainees because of suspected drug smuggling, a spokesman for Bahrain Human Rights Society told Gulf Daily News.

"We had complaints from the families of detainees that they are not allowed to visit them and can't give them toothpaste and cleaning items,' society assistant secretary-general Dr Abdulla Al Durazi told the paper.

"We were told they had to drink water by their hands from a cooler because no glasses were allowed," he added.

Al-Durazi said the society wrote to the Public Prosecution office on Sunday demanding an urgent visit to the detention centre but had not heard back, the paper reported.

Last year, the society warned of mistreatment and poor sanitary conditions at another facility, Jaw Prison, which has a history of prisoner abuse.

"We highlighted the standards of cleanliness were poor and the punishment was excessive," he told the Bahraini daily.

The society alleged that 18 officers, including a high-ranking Arab official, regularly abused detainees physically and mentally, and put them in isolation.

In 2003, prisoners had staged three separate hunger strikes at Jaw prison in south Bahrain in a bid to improve their conditions.

At the time, the Shiite political party, The Islamic National Accord Association (INAA), blasted the "repressive mentality and philosophy of punishment and torture that still prevail in Bahrain's prisons."

The kingdom's interior ministry had released a statement in which it promised to respond to the Jaw allegations.

The ministry did not respond to a request from the local newspaper to comment on the latest allegations from Adliya.

But the ill-treatment in Bahrain's prisons pales in comparison to more serious abuses in other parts of the Arab world, where people are arrested indiscriminately, held without trial, and raped or tortured while under detention.

Abuses are widespread with authorities reportedly subjecting prisoners to electric shocks or vicious beatings -- which sometimes result in death -- or forcing detainees to eat feces or drink urine.

According to the Egypt-based Arab Organization for Human Rights the most notorious Arab prisons can be found in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

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